Bamboo is a unique construction material that many potential homeowners are considering.
Famous for centuries in India and Southeast Asia, its growth in popularity in other parts of the world is hard to ignore.
But before you give in to the hype, you should learn as much about bamboo homes as possible.
Bamboo homes are a sustainable, eco-friendly way to build a home with strong, high-quality raw materials. Bamboo is relatively inexpensive, durable, and readily available. Even so, bamboo has disadvantages, including the lack of national standards.
Let’s discuss different aspects of bamboo homes and determine if it’s the right option for you.
We’ll also discuss the pros and cons and look at some cool examples.
Getting Started With Bamboo Houses
Bamboo homes look very appealing and are good for the earth’s environment. But before taking the plunge, it’s important to consider how much it’ll cost you, how well your home will withstand harsh weather, and other factors.
The cost of a bamboo house varies heavily depending on the type used and the size of the home. Because bamboo is one of the most common resources on earth, bamboo homes are typically cheaper to build than homes built with other raw materials.
For a two-story home, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000, depending on the bamboo’s quality and the house’s design.
The best thing about bamboo is that you can build something decent on a tight budget. Still, if money isn’t a problem, you can achieve the best in aesthetics and functionality.
Bamboo is an excellent plant for making things with because of its strength, which is comparable to wood.
But what makes it stand out is that it is lightweight yet strong. This makes it easier to work with while still being dependable as a resource.
Another reason some designers work with bamboo is its ability to withstand the elements. You might be concerned about how long it can last in areas with snow, rain, high winds, and other factors.
This is where care and maintenance come into the bamboo home design process. Bamboo, left in the rain for too long, can begin to discolor or even crack.
People who want to construct homes with bamboo need more than just bamboo to ensure it is safe and habitable in poor weather conditions.
Staining and sealing bamboo can help mitigate the risks of heavy rainfall or snow destroying your home’s foundation.
If you properly seal bamboo, it can withstand almost any inclement weather. Without sealant, you risk deterioration and damage to the house over time.
Bamboo is a good choice in places prone to natural disasters, provided you make the necessary alterations, like sealing.
The most commonly used bamboo for projects like houses and furniture is Guadua Bamboo. Its strength and thickness make it a suitable replacement for wood.
Guadua bamboo can grow up to 100 feet (30.48 meters), and plenty of this bamboo is available.
Other types of bamboo commonly used for home construction include Dendrocalamus and Bambusa. They also tend to grow tall, so getting them in sufficiently long lengths isn’t challenging.
One of the biggest reasons people prefer to build their homes with bamboo is its versatility and beauty.
Because bamboo is so strong (with a compressive strength similar to concrete) and lightweight, it gives people more freedom to design unique homes without needing such a strong base.
With Bamboo, the possibilities of innovative and intricate designs become that much more possible. Homeowners can create taller, larger designs even in smaller spaces.
You can use it to build a wide range of structures, from one-bedroom homes, like the one by Bamboo Living, to larger commercial buildings. There are also tiny homes available (again, see the example from Bamboo Living at the link) for those who do not need much space to live comfortably.
Bamboo flooring is increasingly popular today thanks to its eco friendly features, including the fact that it is a renewable resource. The plants grow fast, replacing harvested plants within 3-4 years.
A bamboo floor will be hard-wearing and last for many years (typically 10-25 years). It costs about the same as a standard hardwood floor to buy and install (about $2-$4 per square foot), so it won’t break the bank either.
Cali Bamboo is a popular floor choice, providing a hard-wearing surface with a beautiful grain and real character.
Pros and Cons of Bamboo Construction
Now that we know the basics of bamboo homes, let’s talk about some of the positive and negative aspects of designing, erecting, and living in a bamboo home.
Advantages of Bamboo Construction
Let’s discuss some of the positive aspects that have made Bamboo homes so popular.
Bamboo buildings Are Affordable
Going for a bamboo home can save you a lot of money. It is so cheap that its use has become prevalent after natural disasters. In addition to being cheaper than conventional materials, it can withstand the elements.
Bamboo Is Readily Available
Affording the materials you need to build a home can be challenging, but finding them can be even more challenging. Shortages of lumber and steel are common, which can drastically slow down the process of building homes. With bamboo, this isn’t much of a concern.
It can grow up to three feet (0.91 meters) daily. And if that isn’t impressive enough, it can also keep growing after harvesting. This means that it can keep growing from its base, unlike trees that are of one-time use and must regrow.
A growth rate of three feet a day plus the ability to regrow without replanting make bamboo one of the most sustainable resources for construction worldwide.
Bamboo Structures Are Strong
Some may question bamboo’s strength due to its lightweight and flexible nature. However, it is one of the strongest plants out there.
Using bamboo instead of steel for scaffolding and other applications goes back over 5,000 years in China. Since then, it has been used to build a variety of structures.
Its flexibility can make it seem weak, but its strength is shown by bending and not breaking. You can bend bamboo as needed, but like steel, it will hold strong even when bent.
This makes it great for many architectural applications because it allows room for movement in a structure without causing damage to the frame.
Bamboo Is Easy To Work With
Because it is lighter than lumber and steel, bamboo tends to be easier to work with.
This doesn’t mean that one person can do the job themselves, but it takes less effort and time to get the job done. So, constructing a home with bamboo lowers the cost of labor.
Bamboo is Eco Friendly
Eco-friendliness is one of the main reasons you should consider a bamboo home.
First, its use in homes helps preserve trees, as people don’t need to tear them down to use them in their houses.
It is also a carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it up so it cannot contribute to global warming.
It is also incredibly reusable, which can save on the costs of remodeling or redesigning a home. This means it can be reused and reallocated to other projects, making it a green alternative.
Bamboo Is a Highly Versatile Material
Taking one material and making an entire home is rare, but bamboo can do this. You can use bamboo to make walls, floors, and other essential fixtures in your home, like a dining table, a bed, and other furniture – even garden furniture.
We have come far with construction advancements, allowing us to use the same material in many different ways.
This variety allows homeowners to take even the most innovative home ideas and make them happen. So you don’t face restraints when using it for your home. Rather, you can create the home and style you want from this versatile plant.
Below are some reasons why you might decide against a bamboo house.
Bamboo Is Not Adequately Regulated
Constructing homes with this sturdy plant is still relatively new in many parts of the world.
Because it is so new, there are inadequate regulations regarding its safety for use in construction, although the International Code Council has produced an evaluation report for structural bamboo poles.
Despite this, it can become quite complicated for officials to determine if the building meets the required standards.
When a company builds a house, they have a lot of codes to follow to ensure it is safe and lasts.
Those codes don’t exist for most bamboo houses yet. So, you are putting a lot of faith in the ability of the construction company to get it right.
Hopefully, as more people gain interest in modern bamboo houses, local officials will begin implementing codes and regulations regarding the new material.
Bamboo buildings Need Proper Care To Last
Bamboo houses require upkeep to ensure they last a long time. This means that builders will need to apply protective coatings to the home, and you’ll need to reapply this protection periodically throughout the life of the building.
You will also need to be careful not to damage the bamboo by chipping it. This is normal for those who have had wood floors, but accidents can happen.
They also may cost a good amount of money to repair. So, you need to care for your home just as much after you move in as during the building process.
Examples of Bamboo Homes You Can Draw Inspiration From
There are many design options for a bamboo house, just like an ordinary home.
The designs vary based on what you are comfortable with and can afford. You can choose an intricate design by designer Nattapon Klinsuwan which features hanging bamboo as a lovely accent.
Another great example is this home by Vo Trong Nghia Architects, which shows the simplicity of a basic bamboo design.
Pairing the structure with full-pane windows gives the place a much more natural look. This can help with cooling and heating costs and allow more natural light into your home.
If you want a more basic structure, check out this design by H&P Architects. This home stands on a platform to help with flooding in the area, and every part of the structure is bamboo.
This is an excellent example of the simplicity you can achieve with bamboo structures and the preventative measures you can take to protect your home.
This final example is a cafe designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects. It is a great example of the intricate ways you can use bamboo.
The innovative designs of the supports show how you can use their flexibility to your advantage when designing your home.
Bamboo Buildings FAQ:
Is Bamboo Susceptible to Insect or Water Damage?
Bamboo is susceptible to water damage and insect infestation. Termites and mold are significant concerns for bamboo structures.
However, using the right coating can solve this problem. You can choose from various coatings and sealants in the market.
Also, certain types of bamboo are naturally resistant to insects like termites. So, you can defend against insect and water damage by building your home with termite-resistant bamboo or applying a protective coating to regular bamboo.
If you have concerns about either of these potential issues, bring it up with the construction company and ensure they take the necessary precautions.
How Long Will A Bamboo House Last?
You might have concerns about its longevity, but the good news is that Japan and other parts of the world have used bamboo as a durable raw material for many years.
Some of those homes were constructed over 200 years ago. So you don’t need to worry about its longevity.
Of course, it is not guaranteed that every house will last this long. Care and maintenance are vital if you want them to last a long time.
Adhere to the best maintenance practices and follow the guidance of whichever company you work with to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
Bamboo is an excellent resource for designing and building homes. Like any other material, it has its upsides and downsides.
However, those who want to live in an eco friendly home should consider it for their next house-building project.